Contacting Your Legislators

bullets_balls_red_008 If you're not already a registered voter, register to vote. Legislators have immediate access to voter registration lists. If your name is not there your letter may not count for much since you can't vote for him/her.

bullets_balls_red_008 If you're not sure who your two state legislators are, click here.

bullets_balls_red_008 Your legislators were elected to represent you. If you want them to represent your views in the legislature, be willing to make sure they know exactly where you stand in clear, concise language.

bullets_balls_red_008 Members of the legislature want to be re-elected. Therefore, they have an interest in listening to constituents who are willing to take the time to express their views, especially on how issues will affect voters in their district.

bullets_balls_red_008 The most effective way to be heard is through personal communication. There is no better way to get your legislator's attention than to contact their office personally by letter, telephone, or a personal visit to their office.

bullets_balls_red_008 Whichever way(s) you choose to communicate with your legislators, here are some helpful hints that will make your efforts most effective.

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Letter Writing/E-mail Tips

Letter Writing/E-mail Tips

1. Be brief and to the point. Discuss no more than one subject per letter. Write on personal stationery that includes a return address, and be sure to sign your name over your typed signature at the bottom of the page. In the case of e-mails, make sure to include all of your contact information (full name, address, phone) under your digital signature.

2. Use your own words. Avoid trite slogans or phrases. Above all, do not use a form letter! NCCFMRC provides a sample letter, but you should adapt it to your own language and circumstances. Make sure the legislator knows that you are a constituent who lives in his/her voting district.

3. Ask the legislator for his/her position on the issue you are writing about. If you are writing about a specific bill, identify it by bill number (title and author, too, if you know).

4. Keep all communication friendly and respectful. Make sure to thank the legislator for considering your views. Explain why the proposed bill affects you and why you support or oppose it.

5. Be constructive! Be reasonable. Don't ask for the impossible. Don't threaten. Don't get personal. And most of all, don't mention Election Day. A legislator is well aware of the political implications of disagreeing with their constituents. Request that your legislator take a specific action by telling him/her what you want. State the facts as you see them. Avoid emotional arguments.

Telephone Tips

Telephone Tips

1. When the legislature is in session, call the Raleigh (Capitol) office. During recess, call the district office in the county in which you live.

2. Ask to speak directly to the legislator. If he/she is unavailable, ask to speak to the administrative assistant or legislative aide.

3. When the legislator or assistant is on the line, identify yourself and that you are in their voting district.

4. State the reason for your call. Refer to the specific senate or house bill number (if there is one) whenever possible.

5. Explain why you support or oppose the bill. Discuss only one issue per call.

6. Ask the legislator for his/her position on the issue. If the legislator's position is the same as yours, express your agreement and thanks. If the legislator's position differs from yours, politely express disappointment and offer some factual information supporting your views.

7. Don't attempt to give "expert" opinions. Just tell how legislation would affect you and your community based on your own personal experience and knowledge.

8. Request that your legislator take a specific action by telling him/her what you want. State the facts as you see them. Avoid emotional arguments.

9. Keep everything you say friendly and respectful.

10. Be sure to thank the legislator or aide for his/her time and for considering your views.

Visitation Tips

Visiting Your Legislator
In Person

1. Call at least a week or two ahead for an appointment. Generally, legislators are at their district (local) office on Fridays and holidays. Indicate the bill or issue that you would like to discuss. Always call just before your appointment to confirm the meeting.

2. Get to know the staff members as well as the legislator. They can be very effective advocates for your issues because they do a lot of the substantive work on issues.

3. Be brief and to the point. State your case and conclude your meeting in no more than fifteen minutes.

4. Keep the visit friendly and respectful; do not be combative.

5. Relate the bill's impact back to your community and/or state.

6. Leave a one-page fact sheet offering a concise summary of the problem and your proposed solution.

7. Most Important! Send a thank-you letter to both the legislator and the staff member who assisted getting you the appointment following the visit. The letter should reinforce areas of agreement as well as review opposing views. It should serve as a refresher to help keep the legislator aware of your position on the issue. But remember, be nice, be cordial, be businesslike.